box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Physician IT

Manitoba invests $2 million in IT pilot projects

WINNIPEG – Manitoba Health has begun allocating $2-million to clinics participating in its Physician Integrated Network (PIN) pilot projects. Funds are being used in areas such as information management, enhancing the delivery of quality of care and improving management structures.

The project has evolved under the guidance of an advisory committee with representation from the University of Manitoba, the colleges of Registered Nurses and Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, the Manitoba Medical Association, the Winnipeg and Assiniboine regional health authorities and other key primary-care stakeholders.

According to Manitoba Health, the Physician Integrated Network initiative will focus on family physicians who work together and focus on specific areas of care.

For example, if diabetes is prevalent within a clinic’s patient base, a team approach would focus on this particular area of care. It may include the use of non-physician medical professionals, such as registered dieticians and nurses, to assist family physicians with different aspects of testing, screening, education and follow up with patients.

“By using a mix of health-care professionals, patients will have better access to their health team, which will include their doctor and other professionals such as nurses and dietitians,” said Dr. Cornie Woelk, family physician and PIN project steering committee leader. “I look forward to practicing in this new environment, working together with other healthcare providers to create healthier communities.”

Primary care emphasizes health promotion, illness prevention and timely treatment of disease and, if necessary, links patients to more specialized care, such as that provided in hospitals.

The objectives of the pilot project are to:
• improve access to primary-care services;• enhance primary-care providers’ access to and use of information;
• improve the working environment for all primary-care providers; and
• demonstrate high-quality primary care with a specific focus on chronic disease.
“Working closely with patients and helping with their short- and long-term treatment plans will help in the prevention and spread of chronic illnesses,” said Healthy Living Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross.“Attention to living a healthy lifestyle is important in all phases of our lives, especially when dealing with chronic health concerns.”
Four physician groups have been chosen to take part in the initiative.

• Dr. C. W. Weibe Medical Centre, Winkler, is focusing its efforts on preventative practices and coronary artery disease. The clinic has hired a nurse and a dietitian to assist in meeting its project objectives.The clinic will begin mailing out notification letters to patients regarding any preventative screenings and tests they require.

• Assiniboine Clinic, Winnipeg, is focusing its efforts on hypertension and diabetes. The clinic plans to develop individual care plans for patients with diabetes, including blood glucose targets, diabetes education with a healthcare provider and quarterly appointments to monitor care.

• Agassiz Medical Centre, Morden, is also focusing its efforts on hypertension and diabetes, with the same goals as the Assiniboine Clinic.

• Steinbach Clinic, Steinbach, has been selected as a data collection site for the PIN initiative.

“Provinces across the country are looking at ways to make best possible use of the range of skills in health-care settings,” said Health Minister Theresa Oswald. “The Physician Integrated Network is an initiative that speaks to our commitment to build on Manitoba’s primary-care services and use technology to improve our overall operations.”

“Increasing access to the most appropriate medical professionals and co-ordinating the delivery of health services will allow healthcare professionals to provide better access to primary health care,” added Oswald. “This initiative will help ensure that Manitoba is a leader in the area of preventative measures to promote health.”

A Project Team is currently working collaboratively with the demonstration sites to finalize their individual, practice-based implementation and change management plans focusing on the PIN objectives.

Guided by the PIN Advisory Committee, other work currently supported by the Project Team includes:

• A study of Quality Based Funding Models by Dr. Dominika Wranik, (Ph.D Health Economics);

• Implementing information management strategies while working with EMR Vendors;

• Developing Service Purchase Agreements (funding agreements) with the Demonstration Sites;

• Applying the Evaluation Plan at the demonstration and control sites;

• Coordinating the PIN Planning Day III (October 2007); and,

• Developing a Government-wide communication strategy on PIN.